Microsoft Claims to Embrace Openness and Interoperability

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Microsoft held a special press conference on Thursday morning to announce that it is embracing openness and interoperability between its products and third-party products. The company also pointed out that the move will help meet its legal obligations under a European Commission Court of First Instance monopoly abuse ruling.

The company said in a prepared statement "The interoperability principles and actions announced today reflect the changed legal landscape for Microsoft and the IT industry."

Microsoft stated that it is implementing four new "interoperability princicles" that include "ensuring open connections;" "promoting data portability;" "enhancing support for industry standards;" and "fostering more open engagement with customers and the industry, including open source communities."

The information is being made available free of charge, and the use of patent-related technologies will include "reasonable and non-discriminatory" licensing terms.

The company has been routinely criticized for a lack of openness and for pushing its proprietary file formats as industry standards. It also has been accused of using its market dominant status to unfairly control the market and force competitors out of business. As a result, it has found itself on the wrong end of antitrust lawsuits in the United States and Europe.

The E.U. is continuing to monitor Microsoftis actions throughout Europe, and a U.S. District Court Judge recently ruled to extend company monitoring through November 12, 2009.

Where prior commitments from Microsoft to give competitors and third-party developers access to information necessary for developing Windows-compatible applications have seemed to be commitments in word only, releasing the information on the companyis Web site shows a substantial change in action. Todayis move underscores that even Microsoft can be influenced by industry changes.

Microsoft claims that there are over 30,000 pages of documentation available now. How useful that documentation is ultimately will be determined by the competitors and developers that have been clamoring for this information for years.

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